One of the few slices of Old Florida that remains in the area, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is located on 245 acres in south Pinellas County adjacent to Lake Maggiore. Despite an overcast sky and the threat of showers, the lobby was filled with people last Saturday, November 22, wanting to learn about one of the largest areas of natural land in St. Petersburg.
Boyd Hill has been in the news lately. At a recent public hearing this month in front of a packed room filled with supporters, the St. Petersburg Community Planning and Preservation Commission voted unanimously to recommend a land-use change to expand protection of the area. A proposal to build townhomes alarmed nearby residents and environmentalists. The location was a concern as the proposed plan called for the townhomes to border the edge of the preserve, making the task of protecting the habitat much more difficult. The company withdrew their proposal due to neighborhood opposition and lack of support from the city. The expanded preservation plan will now go before city council for final approval.
The land use change will protect habitat that supports gopher tortoises, goldenrod and golden aster, all endangered species that thrive alongside the thousands of plant and animal species at the preserve.
“While not all development is bad, the ruling will prevent improper land use in the future,” said George Heinrich, a field biologist who was preparing to lead a group of high school students on a tour last Saturday. “The public spoke up loudly. The commission’s ruling was a victory for wildlife and the community.”
As the lobby emptied and spectators filed out, a pair of red-shouldered hawks flew overhead, signaling an adventure waiting on the lush, native paths of the preserve.